illiterate 1 of 2

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as in ungrammatical
violating approved patterns of speaking and writing most of the messages left on the Web site's bulletin board are illiterate

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illiterate

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noun

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How is the word illiterate distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of illiterate are ignorant, unlearned, unlettered, and untutored. While all these words mean "not having knowledge," illiterate applies to either an absolute or a relative inability to read and write.

much of the population is still illiterate

Where would ignorant be a reasonable alternative to illiterate?

While the synonyms ignorant and illiterate are close in meaning, ignorant may imply a general condition or it may apply to lack of knowledge or awareness of a particular thing.

an ignorant fool
ignorant of nuclear physics

When is unlearned a more appropriate choice than illiterate?

The synonyms unlearned and illiterate are sometimes interchangeable, but unlearned suggests ignorance of advanced subjects.

poetry not for academics but for the unlearned masses

When can unlettered be used instead of illiterate?

The meanings of unlettered and illiterate largely overlap; however, unlettered implies ignorance of the knowledge gained by reading.

an allusion meaningless to the unlettered

When might untutored be a better fit than illiterate?

In some situations, the words untutored and illiterate are roughly equivalent. However, untutored may imply lack of schooling in the arts and ways of civilization.

strange monuments built by an untutored people

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Cite this Entry

“Illiterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/illiterate. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

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